True (Spandau Ballet song)

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Single by Spandau Ballet
from the album True
B-side "Gently"
Released 14 April 1983 (UK)
July 1983 (US)
Format 7" single, 12" single
Recorded 1982
Genre New wave, synthpop, blue-eyed soul, smooth jazz
Length 4:58 (promo 45 edit)
5:39 (single version)
6:08 (12-inch version)
6:29 (album version)
Label Chrysalis Records
Writer(s) Gary Kemp
Producer(s) Jolley & Swain
Spandau Ballet singles chronology

"True" is a song by the British band Spandau Ballet. It was released in April 1983 as the third single from their third studio album of the same name.

The song was a huge worldwide hit, peaking at number one in the UK Singles Chart on 30 April 1983 for four weeks,[1] becoming the sixth biggest selling single of the year, and charting highly in 20 other countries. It is Spandau Ballet's biggest hit and their most remembered song in the U.S., reaching number four on the Billboard Hot 100 in the autumn of 1983 and topping the adult contemporary chart for one week.[2]

In 1985, the band performed the song during Live Aid. A new mix by Tony Swain and Gary Kemp was released in 2002 on the compilation album Reformation.

On 30 April 2008, the single celebrated its 25th anniversary, and in honour, EMI released a brand new True EP on 5 May 2008, which included the original single, the new mix found on Reformation and the remastered album version, plus a live recordings of "True" and "Gold" from the last show of the group's 1983 tour at Sadlers Wells.

The saxophone solo was by Steve Norman.

Background and writing[edit]

It was composed by group leader Gary Kemp who wrote the song at his parents' house, where he lived at the time.[3] It is a six-minute (in its original album version) slow pop-ballad love song that in part pays tribute to the Motown artist Marvin Gaye, who is mentioned in the lyrics, and the sound he helped to establish.[4] The song was recorded before Gaye's murder a year later, which was itself followed by the release of the song "Nightshift" by The Commodores, which was a tribute to both Gaye and Jackie Wilson. The song was also partly about Kemp's platonic relationship with Altered Images singer Clare Grogan. Some phrases in the lyrics (including the much-quoted reference to "seaside arms") were adapted from Vladimir Nabokov's novel Lolita, a copy of which Grogan had given Kemp.[5]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "True" – 5:39
  2. "Gently" – 4:01


Chart Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report) 4
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[6] 9
Canadian Adult Contemporary (RPM)[7] 5
Canadian Top Singles (RPM)[8] 1
Germany (Media Control Charts)[9] 9
Ireland (IRMA)[10] 1
Italy (FIMI)[11] 39
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[12] 4
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[13] 4
Spain (AFYVE)[14] 3
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[15] 5
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[16] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[17] 4

Covers and samples[edit]

Parts of the original version have been sampled and used in a number of songs - most notably P.M. Dawn's 1991 U.S. #1 hit "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss", which contains a sample of the song's famous guitar hook. PM Dawn's song was also covered by the Backstreet Boys. The song was also sampled in 1997 on the song "Serenade" by R&B all-female group Shades, by US female rapper Queen Pen on her 1998 single "It's True", and again in 2005 on the Nelly song "'N' Dey Say". There is also a remix of "Happy People" by R. Kelly that utilizes a sample from this song.

Lloyd's "You" contains an interpolation of "True". Texas rapper Z-Ro used the sample for his song "Continue 2 Roll". Other notable covers include "Be There" by Silkk the Shocker, "True" by Underworld 805 Family, and "True" by Soul:ID.

Paul Anka released a swing version of the song on his 2005 album, Rock Swings where he changes the line "listening to Marvin" into "listening to Ella", in tribute to Ella Fitzgerald. Other pop versions include covers by Arnee Hidalgo and Joanna Wang. The opening sequence of "True" is sampled in the song "Ask About Me" by Girl Talk on the 2006 album Night Ripper.

The piano melody in "True" at approximately 4:20 in the song is interpolated during the chorus of the Backstreet Boys song "I Want It That Way".

Duvall covered the song on their 2003 album Volume & Density.

American alternative rock band Lazlo Bane covered the song for the 2009 film I Love You, Beth Cooper. However, it wasn't featured on the official soundtrack.[18]

Cézaire, a French electronic music producer, sampled portions of "True" in 2012 for a song of the same title. Reggae singer Elephant Man covers his song “Tek It To The World" in 2013.

Joanna Wang also covers the song in her 2008 album, 'Start From Here' [19]

Appearances in media[edit]

The song was featured in the 1984 movie Sixteen Candles during the school dance scene.

The Backstreet Boys sang part of the chorus during their song, "Bigger", on their 2009 This Is Us Tour.[20]

In the popular British show Skins, JJ sang the song with ukuleles to win back the affections of Lara Lloyd.

The song was also featured in an episode of Modern Family.

In the film The Wedding Singer, the song was sung by Steve Buscemi at the very end.

Featured on TV show Popular, in the second season episode "The News Of My Death Has Been Greatly Exaggerated", referenced as one of the character's (April Tuna) favorite songs.

In the British T.V. series "Ashes to Ashes", in the end of the 7th episode of season 3, Alex and Gene dance to this song.

A modified version by Fergie was in the closing credits of the movie "50 First Dates".

The song was featured in the Veronica Mars episode "Ruskie Business".[21]

The song appears very briefly in a trailer for Monsters University.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 422–3. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 228. 
  3. ^ "How we made - Gary Kemp and Steve Norman on True". 
  4. ^ "The Band". Official Spandau Ballet website. Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  5. ^ Simpson, Dave (14 May 2012). "How We Made: "True"". London: The Guardian website. Retrieved 27 June 2013. 
  6. ^ " – Spandau Ballet – True" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  7. ^ "Adult Contemporary - Volume 39, No. 11, November 12, 1983". RPM. Retrieved November 8, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 39, No. 9, October 29, 1983". RPM. Retrieved November 8, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Chartverfulgong > Spandau Ballet > True –" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  10. ^ "Irish Singles Chart – Search for song". Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved November 8, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Hit Parade Italia - Indice per Interprete: S". Hit Parade Italia. Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Spandau Ballet search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  13. ^ " – Spandau Ballet – True". Top 40 Singles.
  14. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  15. ^ " – Spandau Ballet – True". Swiss Singles Chart.
  16. ^ "Archive Chart: 1983-04-30" UK Singles Chart.
  17. ^ "Spandau Ballet Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot 100 for Spandau Ballet.
  18. ^ "Soundtracks for I Love You, Beth Cooper". Retrieved 2014-03-29. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-03-29. 
  21. ^ "The Music Of Veronica Mars: Episode 1-15: "Ruskie Business"". Mars Investigations: The (In)Complete Guide to Veronica Mars. Retrieved January 12, 2015. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Let's Dance" by David Bowie
UK number one single
30 April 1983
(for four weeks)
Succeeded by
"Candy Girl" by New Edition